By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja

WITH daunting challenges face food security and nutrition in the country, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Thursday, accepted Nigeria Society of Engineers partnership for greater productivity of farmers.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, in a keynote address at the 2022 Engineering Conference and Annual General Meeting with theme ‘The Nigerian Agricultural Sector in Strategic National Development: The Role of Engineers’, which was organised by the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Bwari Branch in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Abubakar said there is serious need for mechanisation and other technologies to galvanize the agricultural sector especially in the advent of climate change, dwindling petrodollars, growing population and nutrition challenges.

He said: “From the inception of the Buhari administration to date, it should be observed that Agriculture remains pivotal to national development and economic prosperity.

“As we are aware, no nation can thrive without being well. self sufficient in food. This conference therefore, couldn’t have come at a better time than this, when the policies and programs of this government are continuously tailored in the direction of our diversification of the economy, from oil to agriculture and other mineral resources.

“Indeed, the agricultural sector remains amongst the key sectors that will continue to accelerate and drive economic growth. In Nigeria. This sector is equally the largest employer of labor in the country.

“The national economic development strategy in Nigeria depends heavily on agriculture as the oil sector is increasingly becoming if you can say dwindling in desire across the world because of the issue of climate change, to achieve its mandate, and deepen the successes recorded the ministry is open to and will continue to seek and expand areas of collaboration with professional bodies like yours in its policies and programmes in order to achieve innovative solutions that can revolutionize the sector and lead to higher agricultural productivity.”

He also expressed hope that NSE es up with solutions to address challenges in the agricultural sector.

“It is my hope that this momentous gathering aware of the challenges facing the country, particularly the agriculture sector will come up with solutions that can enhance and strengthen our national development strategy in the short, medium, or long term, the federal government is making an effort to mobilize support to increase agricultural production and food security by embarking on various programmes geared towards hunger eradication, and also creation of employment opportunities for the teeming youth of this country.

“To this end, the government creates an enabling environment for development partners, who wish to support rural rural farmers through skills acquisition, capacity building and facilitating links to processors and manufacturers for the utilization of agricultural, raw materials, machineries and others respectively.

“In this regard, agricultural mechanization plays a pivotal role in ensuring higher productivity, improve quality of product and effective utilization of energy required for our various field operations through the entire chain of crop production, harvesting, processing, transportation, and storage.

Meanwhile, he (Abubakar) commended the collaboration effort of the members of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Bwari branch and other stakeholders.

“I charge you all participants to come up with the far reaching solutions that if implemented, would rapidly transform Nigeria into a better society and an agricultural giant”, he added.

Earlier, in an address of welcome, the Chairman, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Bwari Branch, Engr Halimat Adediran, FNSE, FNIMechE, said the 2022 Engineering Conference and Annual General Meeting with theme ‘The Nigerian Agricultural Sector in Strategic National Development: The Role of Engineers’ is, “In view of of the strategies that the Federal Government is putting in, post COVID-19 to diversify our economy to Agriculture and the extractive industry.”

Speaking on the strategic role of engineers in nation building, she said, “This is a clarion call to all Nigerian engineers that we have a lot in our hands to do to make the project Nigeria work.

“We call on government for full engagement of indigenous engineers. Government should give our engineers the platform to showcase what they can bring to the table towards the advancement of this great nation.”

She also spoke on the strategic role engineers should play in transforming rural communities where largest part of Nigerians live but are in precarious predicament orchestrated by dearth of social amenities and infrastructure to add value to their lives.

Adediran said the challenges and rigours rural dwellers face gingered the NSE Bwari Branch to embark on projects in Gaba and Dutse-Sagwari Communties to ameliorate their plight.

“Part of the deliverables of the present Exco this year was the construction of a new block of classrooms with new furniture through the support of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing donated to L.E.A Primary School, Dutse -Sagwari, Bwari Area Council of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to improve on the poor infrastructure of the school and also commissioning of a solar-powered borehole in Gaba Community, whose source of water was from contaminated streams and stagnant waters, and all in Bwari Area Council of the FCT”, she stated

The Adediran-led NSE Bwari branch also gave scholarship to science students of 12 secondary schools in Bwari Area Council in order to encourage young Nigerians come into the engineering profession as they acquire tertiary education.

However, the two-year Adediran leadership of NSE Bwari branch had engaged the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, and also the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

In a remark, Chairman of NSE and Chairman of the conference, Engr Tasiu Sa’ad Gidari-Wudil, FNSE, emphasized the strategic importance of engineers in all spheres of life as far as development is concerned.

Gidari-Wudil called on the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to bring on board agric engineers to achieve more in the sector.

He also commended the Adediran-led NSE Bwari branch for being ahead of other branches which it received an Award as the Most Vibrant branch of NSE, which also they have provided borehole and school buildings for pupils in Bwari Area Council

He therefore charged engineers to give back to society, and said that
an NSE branch should be able to embark on rural projects to transform.lives without waiting for Government

He pointed that with the 81 branches and four outside Nigeria, the remaining 77 branches of NSE can transform lives of Nigerians if the needful is done.

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